MOSCOW, Idaho — The almost 2,000-mile journey from Lafayette seemed to have little effect on Louisiana-Lafayette.
The Cajuns (2-3, 1-1 Sun Belt) ended a three-game losing streak with a 21-16 win over Idaho on Saturday afternoon at the Kibbie Dome.
Coach Mark Hudspeth commended the Cajuns defense, which held the Vandals to 279 total yards.
“They see themselves getting better,” Hudspeth said. “For us to come on the road this far, and beat a really good team at home in that type of environment. ... I thought our kids showed a lot of fortitude tonight in the way that they battled.”
Both teams saw little success on their first drives, as each squad went three-and-out.
Idaho (2-3, 1-1) picked up momentum when quarterback Matt Linehan connected with Jacob Sannon on a fourth-down conversion midway through the opening quarter. Several plays later, DJ Henderson barreled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard fullback dive for the lead.
The Cajuns answered late in the first quarter as quarterback Andre Nunez completed a 12-yard pass to Ryheem Malone to set the Cajuns at the Idaho 3-yard line. Dion Ray then called his own number on the next play, with his short rush tying the score at 7.
The Ragin’ Cajuns did not stop there.
Just moments into the second quarter, Cajuns running back Trey Ragas scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 14-play, 83-yard drive. The Cajuns chewed up 6:48 off the clock to take a 14-7 lead at the 9:19 mark of the second period.
Meanwhile, the Cajuns defense held the Vandals to just 107 yards through the first half. In comparison, the Cajuns passed for 108 yards and rushed for another 50 yards.
The Vandals closed the half with a 26-yard field goal from Cade Coffey, narrowing the gap to 14-10.
Louisiana-Lafayiette regained control in the third quarter as unez hit Ja’Marcus Bradley on a 45-yard touchdown pass. Stevie Artigue's third extra point made it 21-10 at the 2:10 mark.
Idaho’s offense remained ineffective through the third quarter, managing just two field goals to cut the deficit to 21-16.
The defense then held off Idaho in the fourth quarter.
Nunez completed 18 of 24 passing for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while his counterpart Linehan was 13 of 28 for 149 yards.
Louisiana-Lafayette finished with 297 total yards.
“I thought in the second half we got bogged down a little bit offensively,” Hudspeth said. “I would have loved to put the game away when we had some opportunities — we didn’t do that — but when we had to, the offense was able to run the clock out.”
The Ragin’ Cajuns return home to face Texas State at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
Idaho remains in Moscow, squaring against Appalachian State in a 2 p.m. game Saturday.